David Bowie was blasted out of his mind on cocaine during the making of Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth. It was his first major feature film, but Bowie often didn’t know what was “being made at all.” He worked off his instinct, as he later told Rolling Stone magazine:
“I just learned the lines for that day and did them the way I was feeling. It wasn’t that far off. I actually was feeling as alienated as that character was. It was a pretty natural performance. ... a good exhibition of somebody literally falling apart in front of you. I was totally insecure with about 10 grams a day in me. I was stoned out of my mind from beginning to end.”
The film was adapted from Walter Tevis’ sci-fi novel of the same name, which told the story of a humanoid alien, Thomas Jerome Newton, who arrives on Earth, with hopes to build a spacecraft to help transport the remnant population of his home planet Anthea, which has been almost wiped out by a surface-wide drought.
Bowie starred as the extraterrestrial Newton, sharing the screen with American Graffiti‘s Candy Clark as his human lover, and gave a startling performance—edgy, strange, and slightly disconnected from those around him. Added to Roeg’s distinctive directorial vision, The Man Who Fell to Earth is a memorable and thought-provoking film about addiction, desire and the sometimes unbearable extremity of otherness.
More Bowie on the location from ‘The Man Who Fell to earth’ after the jump…